Red Bull have threatened to lodge a protest at the Australian Grand Prix if the cars from rival Formula One teams Toyota, Brawn and Williams pass today's inspection as debate rages over the legality of their bodywork.
The three teams are at the centre of a dispute over their rear diffusers, the part of the bodywork that comes up from the undertray to disperse air from under the car. New regulations limit the size of the diffusers. The three teams have found a potential loophole in the law by designing their rear bodywork effectively to act as part of the diffuser, increasing its size.
A Red Bull team adviser, Helmut Marko, said that a protest will be lodged if those teams are passed to compete following today's inspection, performed by officials from the governing body, the FIA. "We'll make a protest if the component isn't modified to conform to the regulations, because that diffuser guarantees a five-tenths [of a second] advantage per lap," Marko said. "Seven teams are certain it's illegal."
Flavio Briatore, the Renault team principal, has said that he would consider a protest if the bodywork gets approved. The Ferrari team principal, Stefano Domenicali, thinks the bodywork breaks the rules, but wants a pre-race resolution, hoping to prevent the dispute blemishing the opening race of the season on Sunday. "We are convinced certain interpretations that have been applied do not correspond to the nature of the rules," he said.
Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One rights holder, believes the teams should have solved the problem before the start of the season. "These regulations they've already agreed between them, so they can't disagree on them now," he said.